The VA home loan program is one of the most flexible and attractive ways to finance a home today. There’s no set downpayment requirement, no private mortgage insurance and rates are lower compared with some other types of loan programs. It’s also one of the most underutilized types of mortgages due to several common misconceptions.
For starters, many veterans don’t think they served recently enough or for long enough to qualify. Eligibility for a VA home loan is based on the length of time served, and the period in which you served. But the time requirement is less than you might think. And it doesn’t matter when you served. For instance, an Army veteran with at least 90 days in service around the time of the Vietnam War is likely eligible. Surviving spouses of those who were killed while serving our country and who haven’t remarried may be eligible as well.
Other people don’t realize that even if you don’t have a VA home loan currently, you may be able to refinance into a VA mortgage, provided you are eligible.
Still others believe the program only applies to the purchase of single-family homes and don’t realize that they can purchase a condominium with a VA home loan. In fact, you can buy many types of properties with a VA loan. Single-family homes are the most common, but homes with up to four units, condominiums, town homes and manufactured homes that meet certain criteria may be eligible as well.
We can help you learn more about the VA home loan program and check if you’re eligible.
Your down payment is in the bank and you’re pre-approved for a mortgage. You’re all ready to start looking at homes. Here are some tips for home buying the smart way:
Don’t go it alone. Some tech-savvy buyers like to use the Internet and mobile apps to search for homes. But there is no substitute to having someone by your side who can help you navigate the home buying process. Buying a home could be the biggest purchase you ever make, and consulting an expert can make all the difference. That’s why even though most home buyers today use the Internet at some point in the home buying process, nearly 90 percent of all home buyers work with a real estate agent.
Don’t be swayed by staging. You found a home that looks like it could be featured in a magazine. But don’t be swayed by expensive furniture and decor. Pay close attention to the condition of the roof, the heating and cooling system and plumbing — anything that would be costly to upgrade or repair.
Take your time (and a deep breath). Don’t let a hot real estate market cause you to forgo the basics, such as a home inspection. Many who skip home inspections regret it later. Don’t be rushed into purchasing a home. Take your time so that you can truly find the home that’s right for you and your family.
Ready to get started? Start your home buying journey with a visit to our office. Our knowledgeable staff is here to guide you.
Buying your first home? Here are three real estate professionals who will play a big role in your leap from renting to owning your own home:
Mortgage loan officer. Before you look at a single home, you should get pre-approved for financing from a reputable mortgage company. Once you’re pre-approved, you can begin your home search. By visiting with a lender first, you’ll know how much home you can reasonably afford and you’ll be able to make legitimate offers on any homes that meet your criteria.
Real estate agent. There’s a reason that nearly 90 percent of home buyers purchase their homes with the help of a real estate agent or broker. (That’s a percentage that has steadily increased from 69 percent in 2001!) An agent can guide you through one of the most important — not to mention largest — purchases of your life. Assistance from an experienced real estate professional is vital.
Home inspector. Many home buyers make offers contingent upon a home inspection. Without a professional home inspection, you may miss issues or problems that potentially could cost you a lot of money. It’s well worth the cost. A home inspector could spend several hours canvassing the property to give you an idea of the home’s condition.
Did you know that numerous studies over many years show a link between owning a home and happiness and overall well-being? For example, a report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau shows that homeowners generally have higher financial well-being than non-homeowners.
In the CFPB’s report, homeowners have an average financial well-being score of 58. That’s higher than both renters (with average of 49) and those who neither rent nor own (average of 50). The U.S. average financial well-being score is 54. You can read the entire report at this link.
Research studies have linked owning a home to a number of positive outcomes. Researchers at the University of Southern California and the University of San Diego, for example, have linked homeownership to a reduced risk of teenage pregnancy and a lower possibility that a child will drop out of school. A study conducted by Ohio State University found that children of parents who own their own homes are more likely to score higher in reading and math and have fewer behavioral problems.
At the very least, buying the right home can a key ingredient in being happy, according to a report by HomeAdvisor. The company’s research in the area has found that homeowner happiness boils down to an affordable and comfortable home in a safe and connected neighborhood and with a reasonable commute. Good things to keep in mind during your next home search.
Do you think student-loan debt is preventing you from buying a house? A recent survey by the National Association of Realtors supports that opinion.
The survey found that 71 percent of non-homeowners who are current in their student loans believe their debt is holding them back from purchasing a home. The results also revealed that student debt caused four in 10 borrowers to postpone moving out of a family member’s household after graduating college.
However, your loan application doesn’t get approved or rejected by survey results. It’s approved by a lender who considers your individual financial situation.
The lender wants to know that you can handle the mortgage payment. Because the ratio of your debt to your income is so important to your loan application, the higher your income and the lower your debts, the better your chances of getting your loan application approved.
Keep in mind that more than your student loans go into your debt-to-income ratio; car loans and credit card payments all count, too.
Here are four ways to be a better loan applicant: